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Bulk Spices 101: What You Need To Know Before Buying

Today, companies in the food industry are doing more to share the journey of their products throughout the supply chain to communicate quality, consistency, and flavor. But how do you decide which factors are the most important to monitor when sourcing bulk spices for your products? 

According to a food issues trend study conducted by Cone Communications, 97% of Americans say food satisfaction is a top priority, 92% value health and nutritional value of their food products and 77% say that sustainability practices are an essential factor when they’re making a product choice. What does this mean for you as a bulk spice buyer? It means you need to start considering how these consumer trends will affect your sourcing. 

At Olam, we care about our customers, we care about flavor, and we care about the world that grows and nurtures us. With this guide, you’ll learn why it’s necessary to source your spices with intention and how to find a partner who can help you meet your goals by delivering the best product across these critical areas:

Traceability

When you pick a spice provider, you’re trusting your greatest asset — your final product — to the quality of their ingredients.

In spice supply chains, depending on the origin, crops can be sourced directly from farmers and local buying agents. Alternatively, in some instances, raw goods may be purchased from importers or primary processors. 

That’s why you want to make sure you’re working with a partner who has, at minimum, visibility into, but preferably, active engagement and control, in their supply chains. This is your only assurance that the product was ethically and responsibly grown and processed. 

Traceability is essential when sourcing spice products because it provides critical information to our buyers by giving them several insights, including: 

  • Visibility into where and how the product was grown and processed, including awareness of:
    • water, pesticide, and fertilizer usage
    • operational efficiencies to ensure the conservation of natural resources
  • Assurance that laws, regulations, and ethical standards are being met. Some examples include: 
    • ensuring farmers are paid a fair price for their crop
    • safe working conditions are provided
    • local landscapes, such as preserved and protected forests
  • The ability to track a product, which provides a better guarantee of product safety and quality. For example:
    • the product was not grown or processed with other allergens
    • an accelerated avenue to identification during recall

At Olam, we have ownership or active engagement in every stage of the supply chain, ensuring unparalleled traceability and product security to our customers. We work directly with growers and process our products close to where they’re grown.

By focusing on traceability, wholesale spice buyers can rest assured that we’re delivering a positive impact on the places where we source and grow our products. 
To learn more about our priorities for thriving communities and healthy ecosystems, click here.

Sustainability 

Today, sustainability has become a significant factor in determining a competitive product because consumers want to know that a business’ values and practices align with their own. This means giving your consumer visibility not only into your product, but into your processes.

To discover if a partner is a good fit concerning sustainability, consider asking the following questions. 

  • Is the company you’re sourcing spices from paying fair wages to its workers? 
  • Are they investing in the community where the products are being grown and harvested? 
  • Are they regenerating soils and supporting healthy landscapes?

Each of these questions will help you determine if a spice provider aligns with your brand, but more importantly, if you can trust them with your business. 

By increasing agricultural production through sustainable practices, you reduce risks to your business, inspire your employees to be invested in their work, and give your consumers a product they can believe in. You’ll also satisfy the growing demand from consumers to know that their products are sourced ethically while ensuring farming communities across the world have sustainable and viable living conditions.

That’s why our sustainability practices are integral to every aspect of our business. With AtSource, our sustainable sourcing program, we aim to achieve three things: prosperous farmers and food systems, thriving agricultural communities, and the regeneration of the living world. To accomplish these goals, we implement practices and measure progress against 10 key priority areas: 

  • Climate Change: As changing weather patterns affect crops and communities, we’re focused on reducing, mitigating, and adapting our implementation — assuring re-generation of landscapes, while minimizing emissions.   
    • Our facility in Firebaugh, California received a grant for an electric onion toaster project, which supports the state’s electrification efforts. It will replace the current natural gas-fired toasting capability.
    • By installing variable speed drives on all of our Egyptian onion processing plant’s dry exhaust motors, we were able to avoid 3,577 MT of annual GHG emissions.
    • Read More

 

  • Water Security: We’ve reduced our water intake across the board, from limiting use in our processing systems to mapping our water risks, to guarantee our own responsible water usage. 
    • Olam Spices, along with a group of 20 environmental leaders and Fortune 500 companies, announced collaborative investments in critical projects designed to protect California's water future. Together, we formed the California Water Action Collaborative (CWAC) in 2014 as a response to ongoing stress on California water supplies for communities, businesses, agriculture, and nature.
    • Read More 

 

  • Diversity & Inclusion: As an equal opportunity employer, we support an inclusive work environment that respects the rights of our workers to achieve gender equality and equal access.  
    • Our black pepper plantation in the heart of the Chu Puh District in Vietnam provides employment opportunities to local minority women in a very rural area. The work provides these women with a steady income and training in good agricultural practices and environmental stewardship. 
    • Read More

 

  • Economic Inclusion: We rely on the communities where our farms and plantations are located. So we are committed to developing practices that encourage thriving ecosystems and successful farmers. 
    • In 2017, we initiated the Clean Pepper Project to enhance farmer livelihoods, reduce environmental impacts, and improve the quality of black pepper we source in Vietnam. The project provides comprehensive training, including Good Agricultural Practices and Integrated Pesticide Management to 100 smallholder farmers.
    • We launched a pilot program with smallholders throughout Egypt in the Nile Valley region, introducing our varieties of high-solid white onions from our U.S. program. These farmers benefit from a guaranteed contract, more diversified crop portfolio, high-quality seed with high germination rates, fair market prices, extensive training on good agricultural practices (GAP), agronomic support, and a variety of community development programs including health and wellness training and clinics.
    • Read More  

 

  • Education & Skills: We provide long-term agricultural and leadership training to improve the quality of life and opportunities in rural communities. 
    • Each summer, in partnership with The Wonderful Company, we host 10 Reedley Middle College High School seniors for a 2-week paid internship program. This is part of a comprehensive education program designed to support students in California’s Central Valley who are interested in careers in agriculture. 
    • Together with Cairo University’s Faculty of Agriculture, we are working to attract and retain the next generation of food and agriculture leaders in Egypt. We’ve developed a Summer Management Trainee program where each student will complete projects with Olam to support their graduation requirements⁠ — providing leadership and technical presentations for approximately 200 students. 
    • Read More

 

Want to learn about our remaining five priority areas? Click here. 

Product Quality 

Quality determines the overall flavor of your spices and protects the long-term value of your brand. When it comes to selecting an ingredient supplier that has the resources and capabilities to provide for your business, one of the most important things to consider is quality assurance. To fulfill QA standards, suppliers should provide the following essential services:

  • Proof of comprehensive quality control and food safety programs 
  • History of supplying quality products that meet customer expectations 
  • Consistently meets regulatory requirements and industry standards 
  • Provides traceability of ingredient origination 

Ultimately, a higher quality product can reduce the chance of recalls, contamination, and inconsistent flavor. In times of economic uncertainty, companies often seek the cheapest option — a scenario riddled with its own set of challenges. Having the stability of a controlled supply chain can help mitigate this risk by ensuring the product arrives on time and as described.  

Olam Spices is not a commodity business. We’re quality-focused, which is why we can guarantee that our products will deliver an impactful flavor and always arrive on time. We are actively involved with our growing operations year-round, securing our supply, and ensuring quality products for our customers.

Origination 

The key to flavorful, high-quality spices is sourcing products from the right places. That’s because, when it comes to origination, not all climates are created equal. Light, temperature, humidity, and soil composition all play an integral part in determining which countries and regions will produce the best possible products. 

California, for example, produces some of the most flavorful garlic in the world, which is why our California garlic is grown in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley. However, that doesn’t mean it’s suitable for all spices. That’s why we source from 12 different countries by either setting up, or partnering with, farms in the region. 

Are you interested in learning more about the origin and variety of our spices? Check out the details in our spice facts post.

Food Safety 

Safety is an essential consideration for all food manufacturers and suppliers. By adhering to strict standards, food businesses can achieve incredible quality and safety for their consumers while also keeping their risk for recall at a minimum. 

Companies can do this by tracking the ingredients that go into their final product — like spices — and ultimately tracing the footprint of that product to ensure proper food safety management. 

We take a direct approach and go above and beyond regulations to ensure that our processes are implemented and streamlined through all nine of our BRC-rated facilities. We also offer products with halal, kosher, Non-GMO Project verified, and gluten-free certifications.

Reliability 

When partnering with a spice supplier, one of the most important factors to consider is reliability. 

On a surface level, businesses should be asking themselves one question in particular: Is this company going to be around when I need them?

Food manufacturers, restaurant chains, and chefs rely on ingredients that consumers can count on, so the spice supplier behind their ingredients must be trustworthy. Does this supplier have roots in the communities where their product is grown? Are they following sustainable standards that ensure their product will be available year after year? By asking these questions of a future business partner, you ensure that they are reliable.


Here’s another thing to consider: buying in bulk. We understand there’s risk associated when purchasing large quantities, which is why we shoulder the risk, so our customers don’t have to. From our pepper and tropical spices to our chilies and onions, if there’s an issue, we’ll be here to take care of it.

When It Comes to Sourcing Spices, It’s Really About Partnership. Are You Choosing a Good One?

If you partner with Olam, the answer is yes, because our goal is always to help put your business in a better position to provide for your customers.  

With our attention to detail across the board, from sustainability to reliability to flavor, we’re committed to providing a product that’s better than anything else available on the market. In a world where consumers are increasingly concerned with every detail of the supply chain, the strategic choice would be to partner with someone who is committed to going above and beyond the status quo. 

So whether you’re looking to buy online through our eCommerce platform or speak with a salesperson, we’re happy to offer you the options you need to succeed. With our online portal, an account is easy to set up so you can browse our products, request samples, arrange to ship, and have your order delivered directly to your door quickly and easily. 

Are you ready to source your spices with confidence? We’re excited to be your partner. 

Visit olamspices.com or call (559) 447-1390.

ABOUT OLAM INTERNATIONAL 

Olam International is a leading agri-business supplying food, ingredients, feed, and fiber to over 19,800 customers worldwide. Our value chain spans over 60 countries and includes farming, processing, and distribution operations, as well as a sourcing network of 4.8 million farmers. 

Through our purpose to ‘Re-imagine Global Agriculture and Food Systems,’ Olam aims to address the many challenges involved in meeting the needs of a growing global population while achieving a positive impact for farming communities, our planet, and all our stakeholders.  

Headquartered and listed in Singapore, Olam currently ranks among the top 30 largest primary listed companies in terms of market capitalization on SGX-ST.


To learn more about us, visit us at OlamGroup.com.

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